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The Glenlivet invited me to the launch of their new single malt whisky, The Glenlivet Founder’s Reserve.

After a tour of the distillery, we spent the night in Gordon Castle, and then caught the train to Edinburgh.

More of that in another article.

Edinburgh’s a wonderful city, totally unspoilt by modern monstrosities, and with a smell of popcorn in the air. I discovered that this was due to the brewery a few miles away. It’s nice though!

We had lunch in the Scran & Scallie, owned by Michelin star chefs. Tom Kitchen and Dominic Jack. It was packed, but there was no rush to get rid of customers.

Tom Parker Bowles was there, with someone who looked important.

Then we walked along the road, led by Ian Logan, the International Brand Manager of  The Glenlivet, to find Bramble, the Cocktail Bar.

Royal Yacht Britannia 146 (Small)Even though Ian had been there before, he had a bit of trouble finding it. And no wonder! It’s in a basement on the corner of two roads, down a grotty-looking flight of steps with tired-looking astro-turf on the roof, and with no name outside!

‘Are you sure this is the right place?’ I asked, hesitating.

When we went inside, Iwas still unsure. It seemed to have been filled in under the building above, shooting off in different directions into small recesses. And the furniture would be turned down by local Charity Shops around here!

Ian assured me that there are wall-to-wall customers in there every night.

Mike Aikman, the owner/founder of Bramble, had opened in the afternoon especially for us. He’s usually open every night until the early hours. And Sam, his knowledgeable barman had come in as well.

Royal Yacht Britannia 148 (Small)There was a row of Cocktails waiting for us.

Now, I know how proud the Scots are of their whisky, and I’d have thought that the idea of mixing their freshly-launched single malt whisky in Cocktails would have been enough to trigger off another Highland Clan War!

(I also find it hard to picture macho Scotsmen holding dainty glasses with pink Cocktails in them and a cherry on the top. But they do in Bramble! It’s all about the Taste.)

But Mike knew exactly what he was doing. He really understands flavours and ingredients. And so does Sam!

The Glenlivet Founders Reserve has a Nose of delicate aromas of citrus fruit, Royal Yacht Britannia 152 (Small)notably sweet orange.

A Sweet Palate of zesty orange and pears, with a hint of candy and toffee apples.

And a long, creamy and smooth Finish.

So Mike had instructions to enhance these flavours when he created the special cocktails.

Our first Cocktail was called


50ml Glenlivet Founders Reserve

25ml lemon juice

10ml Cassis

Dash sugar syrup

Top with soda

Add all the ingredients (except soda) add crushed ice to the glass, stir briefly, top up with ice & a splash of soda.

Garnish with seasonal berries in a Sling glass.

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40ml Flenlivet Founders Reserve

20ml Pomona Apple Liqueur

10ml fresh lemon juice

10ml fresh lime juice

10ml egg white

(I was surprised to discover that you can buy a carton of egg white, which will keep in the fridge.  That solves the problem of making macaroons)

Dash sugar syrup

Dash angostura bitters.

Shake all ingredients with ice. Serve over clock ice.

Glass Old Fashioned.

Garnish Apple crisp.

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30ml Glenlivet Founders Reserve

30ml Noilly Prat Dry Vermouth

10ml redcurrant syrup (made by Mike & Sam but you can buy it.)

5ml Kirsch

Dash of orange bitters.

Stir all ingredients with ice.

Glass Coupette

Garnish Orange twist

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Then it was our turn and I couldn’t wait to have a go!

Here’s my concoction. I guessed the measurements. I called it;


Pineapple juice

A dash of lime juice

Coconut milk

50ml Glenlivet Founders Reserve

Ice up to the top of the cocktail shaker

Dash of grapefruit bitters.

Shake well, strain to get rid of ice slithers.

Pour into a long glass.

Add a swirl of Grenadine.

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It was an interesting afternoon and I learnt quite a lot from Mike & Sam.

Whisky needs a red fruit with it.

Always add the cheapest ingredients first in case anything goes wrong.

I was surprised to learn that you add ice to the top because then it doesn’t melt so quick, which dilutes the drink and spoils it.

Strain your cocktails through a sieve to get rid of the ice slithers that have broken off during the shaking.

And here’s something else very useful that I learnt:

If you want to taste someone else’s drink, or if someone wants to taste yours, get a clean straw, dip it in the drink to the bottom, then place a finger over the top of the straw. When you lift it out, the air will have sucked up some of the liquid and you can drink it out of the straw.

Mike and Sam had to get some rest before their busy night, so we thanked them and left them to it.

And yes, Scotch single malt whisky does make a wonderful Cocktail!


Bramble Bar

16A Queen Street



0131 226 6343


The Glenlivet Founder’s Reserve

Ian Logan| International Brand Ambassador| Chivas Brothers|

Strathisla Distillery, Seafield Avenue| Keith, AB55 5BS

Tel +44(0)1542 783051| Fax +44(0)1542 783039| Mobile +44(0)7768 776718

Twitter @iantheguardian

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